Monday, March 12, 2012

Getting to know the area you live in

Showing school children critters from their local creek.
It's sad to say, but western cultures, by-and-large, have moved so far away from connections with the natural world and become so reliant on the manufactured one that there is actually a burgeoning cadre of people who believe our loss of connection to the natural world comes at the detriment of the health or our children, society and environment (and I tend to agree) and are now calling for a "return to nature" movement - calls for society to win back, reconnect with and again gain an intimate understanding of the nature world around us. One of the preeminent leaders of this movement (of late) is best-selling author Richard Louv of "Last Child in the Woods" fame. In his new book, "The Nature Principle", Richard lays out a roadmap for ways in which the rest of us - not just children with parents who already appreciate nature - can tap "into the restorative powers of the natural world" to "boost mental acuity and creativity, promote health and wellness, build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies and ultimately strengthen human bonds". And it's not hard to buy his logic/arguments.
Richard Louv's new book.

In fact, I believe that gaining that deeper understanding of the places in which we live almost invariably (inevitably?) brings with it a sense of responsibility to seeing that place continue to exist (in its ever-changing forms) for others to see and experience and intimately know. Nature doesn't have to be scary. (Sidenote here: In fact, I could lay out a convincing argument that the "concrete jungle"- as reggae legend Bob Marley put it - can be one of the scariest places on earth..."where the living is harder", we're surrounded by "illusion - confusion" and continually searching for that "sweet life (for) it must be somewhere to be found, instead of concrete jungle". But I digress...)

Some of the best ways to get connected and gain a deeper understanding of a particular place (I blogged about this a while back, here) are to participate in outings hosted by your local trail maintenance groups, watershed councils, nature-serving non-profits (e.g., Riverkeepers, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, etc.) various State and Federal government agencies and other groups of the same ilk. Don't know how to get in touch with them? Your local public library almost always has a community bulletin board and the librarians can steer you in the right direction. Or contact your local NRCS office, State or local natural resource agency (e.g., Fish and Game, Dept. of Natural Resources, Dept. of Ecology, etc.; incredibly detailed list here), Federal agency (e.g., US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Parks Service, US Forest Service, etc.; near-dizzingly confusing list here) or your State University's Cooperative Extension office. All tend to be a wealth of information about how you can get connected to the natural world. Perhaps second-best would be to contact your local zoo or wildlife science center. They have excellent educational value but, in my opinion, really shouldn't be considered a substitute for actual outdoor time. A stepping stone? You bet!

Now go unplug from the electronic world and get "plugged in" to the natural world! You'll be amazed at how you, your children's lives, and the lives of those around you will benefit...

No comments:

Post a Comment